To my surprise, my parents planned a trip to Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar as a treat for my upcoming birthday. Little did they know that this idyllic place is one of the places in my dream to-visit list. Yay! When they told me about this, I did a little research about the place, rates, directions and all. Minsan lang ‘yun eh! The original plan was to stay overnight and dun na lang daw kami magbook. But, in my mind, we better check the availability of bookings first kasi syempre mahirap na. I don’t want to let any mishap ruin that day. ‘Yun nga fully booked na sila. At least, we know what we’ll do and expect. So, on April 2, we went to Bagac, Bataan.
Though I don’t appear that enthusiastic about it upon hearing the news because of previous events, this short trip has been really memorable for me because this kind of family trip is new to me. It was the first trip that it was just us three. I just felt so loved that day. It was totally different from last week’s drama. And, I am super thankful. Above all, thank You God for this short trip and alam mo na po yun. #BawingBawi 🙂
P.S. Sa tuwa ko, mas marami akong nakuhang videos kesa sa pictures. Hehe. Hence, most of the images below are screenshots from the videos I’ve taken.
As we entered the Las Casas premises, we were welcomed by security guards dressed like the gwardya sibil’s of the Spanish era. Excitement slowly rose inside my old-school heart. I was so giddy! My mind was so loud, “this is it“, “yuhooo“, “ang gandaaa“, “thank youuu!” Kulang na lang mag-baro’t saya ako. Haha. Seeing the 18th century Filipino houses appear one by one (even from afar) made me feel so ecstatic. Las Casas was so beautiful even from the entrance. We were also welcomed by the view of the beach, the coconut trees, and the boulders.
Ladies in baro’t saya manned the registration booth. After giving them our day tour payment, they handed us each a map of the heritage resort. Las Casas is a home to 27 Spanish-era heritage houses or bahay na bato. To roam around or transfer places within the resort, you can either walk, ride a train, a jeepney, a kalesa, or a golf car.
Casa Lubao was our first house to visit. It’s where the guests meet for the scheduled heritage tour of the houses. From what I remembered from our tour guide (Eva), the original owners of this house helped support Emilio Aguinaldo (our first President)’s education in exchange for his mother’s paninilbihan. Before we entered this house (and the other houses), we were asked to remove our footwear first. I find it cute. It’s very Filipino!
Casa Luna (of La Union) is the house where we first experienced how it is to be an aliping sagigilid. They are literally servants who just stay at the inner sides of the house. May maliit na daanan at talagang sa gilid lang sila na nakatago! They can also be sold by their masters. 😦 But, unlike them, tourists are allowed to go inside the house and not just stay at the tiny hallways. We were able to view some of Mr. Acuzar (the Las Casas owner)’s huge collection of antiques such as old pictures from unknown people, vintage recorders and appliances, etc.
Casa Baliuag II is one of the for-rent family houses in Las Casas. We were only able to view it from the outside. It was located next to the Casas Cagayan stilt-wooden houses near the batis-inspired swimming pool. Very probinsya feels! The ground floor of Casa Baliuag was transformed into a passageway for the horse-drawn kalesa. And, from that passageway, the “pang-Instagram” pink and blue doors of Paseo de Escolta can be viewed. 🙂
Paseo de Escolta is the most photographed structure, I think. Haha. But, according to our tour guide, this was just a replica of the original Paseo de Escolta; unlike the other houses which are really transferred piece by piece. This structure houses for-rent rooms for tourists, the panaderia (bakery), a souvenir shop, and Fotografia de la Escolta (a photography studio where you can take photos wearing Spanish era clothes). Hindi ko rin makakalimutan ‘yung kinain kong Spanish bread na worth 35 pesos. 😂
Casa Quiapo / Escuela de Bellas Artes Filipinas and University of the Philippines’s first building is by far the largest of the 27 houses in Las Casas. However, the ground floor was a bit eerie because of the abortion room and the unusual art exhibits. But, the second floor was surprisingly the opposite of the eerie ground floor. It was majestic and spacious that’s why it serves as the grand ballroom for events such as debuts, weddings, and other functions. Plus, the original pillars were preserved. Panoramic views of the whole of Las Casas, especially the beach front, Jones bridge, Sanctuario de San Jose and Hotel de Oriente, is the best part of Casa Quiapo. Para siyang ‘yung lugar na pwedeng mag-dialogue ng “… ipinatawag ko kayong lahat…” Ganooon!
Casa Biñan / Alberto House is only a replica of the two-storey home originally owned by Gregorio Alonzo. Later on, the ownership was passed on to his son, Cipriano, who is Jose Rizal’s maternal grandfather, then to Don Jose Alberto Alonzo, his uncle. Upon climbing the grand staircase and entering this house, the huge portraits of Don Jose Alberto, and his wife, Teodora Formosa welcomed us. It is the most controversial house among the 27 casas. We were shown the room where Teodora Formosa was locked in because of her adulterous relationship with one of the gwardya sibil’s. It is also Formosa who caused the imprisonment of Jose Rizal’s mother, Teodora. She accused Teodora of poisoning her with the food she delivers in her room. This incident ignited Jose Rizal’s desire to fight for the freedom of the Filipinos.
This controversial casa also houses one of Las Casas’ restaurants, ‘La Bella Teodora’. The ground floor is an ala carte Italian restaurant while the second floor is a buffet Filipino restaurant. We were the first to arrive for the lunch buffet! Haha. Like Casa Quiapo, it was also huge and filled with long tables. Occasionally, servers in baro’t saya will refill your water goblets, etc. Feeling yayamanin! Haha
Not all 27 houses are part of the heritage tour. The others are occupied by tourists while some other houses you can visit at your convenience. There’s La Puesta del Sol which offers the best view of the Las Casas canal. Venice, Italy feels! Next to it are Casa Terraza and, my favorite, Casa Ladrillo. Right across it is Casa Hagonoy. It looks almost exactly like the old house I fear every time we visit our old home in Hagonoy, Bulacan.
Visiting Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar felt like entering a time machine and being transported into the past. I wonder how it will look more beautiful at night. For sure, the lamp posts will add a more historical and magical vibe to the place. Mama’s original plan was to stay overnight, however, all rooms are booked nga kasi. Sayang! Anyway, this short trip’s still one for the books! (yep, pun intended. hehe)
But, but, but…
more than the beautiful houses and spots, seeing mama and papa like this ↑ will always be my favorite sight. This short trip we had was a happy pre-birthday, indeed. Thank you, you two! ♥
P.S. Las Casas, I’ll visit you again someday. Maybe, with my future special someone naman, or even without one. Haha. Nevertheless, I surely will visit you again.
A few days, weeks, months, or years from now, this trip will just be a plain memory. But, it was and will always be a great memory I would always love to go back to. Years from now, I’ll go back to this post and remember how my parents made me feel so loved especially on this day! 💛